繁華市聲

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1987 / 6月

文‧舜田



在想方法賺錢上,香港人一向很有辦法,炒股票、黃金、地皮、樓房在此地非常盛行,且從事者不分職業貴賤。一位香港中文大學教授毫不隱諱他炒金,運氣好時,在買進、賣出,一轉手間賺的錢﹐比他一個月的薪水還多。

「賭」聲處處響

愛「賭」也是港人的特質。有錢人擁有自己的賽馬,年輕工人則擠在「跑馬地」,邊看馬經、邊帶著耳機聽馬賽、下賭注;結婚喜筵晚間九點開席,下午三點客人已團團圍成好幾桌,麻將打開來;中大學生禮拜六不敢去給學校理髮師傅剪髮,怕師傅因賭馬輸了,心情不佳,把後腦勺髮根剪出個大窟窿……。

香港各個階層皆有其賭的方式;即使有人本身不賭,時時耳聞目見,也天天會和「賭」碰頭。

隨忙著賺錢、好賭而來,現實、不關心政治,就成為外人對港人的評語;但這些特質並非港人與生俱來。

一九六○年代香港連續發生幾次人民暴動。英國政府自此不願這塊殖民地上的人民多接觸、討論政治。為了便於管理、安定人心,英政府鼓勵賽馬、賭馬,如今港人每年在賽馬上投下的錢數多達二百億港幣;在沒有任何限制之下,麻將聲更處處響起……。賭,在香港像火勢燎原,也成了安定殖民地社會的方法之一。

依法行事效率高

港府安撫港人的另一重要工作是,大力改進港人生活,推行一套有秩序、條理化的文官制度。

一九七○年代開始,港府廣收民意,大興學校、公屋(國民住宅)和便捷的交通系統,維持治安、掃除貪汙,嚴格晉用政府公務人員,沒有人有特權、走後門。

香港中文大學新聞系主任朱立的經驗足以說明成效:「打開書桌抽屜是一疊疊的法律,一學期接不到校長幾次電話,什麼事都按法行事即可。」香港人相信,做任何事只要依法行事就不會受刁難或拖延。早上申請成立公司,下午就可開張做生意,是最好的例子。

電視上則隨時可見港府製作的公益廣告,鼓勵港人投訴,對治安、環境、地鐵……,有任何不滿意,儘量發表意見,「即使到警察局哇啦、哇啦叫也無妨!」由上海來港廿多年的劉姓市民說。

不求政治,但求自由

這種沒有「民主」,卻擁有極大「自由」的香港人,就一逕往經濟路上努力。港府對經濟也採取全面自由化、國際化,任何公司行號除每年報一次稅,就不再和港府有任何糾葛;加上香港本身的地利,使香港變成世界重要轉運港、第三大金融中心,大夥因此更加栽進賺錢的漩渦,造就了一個在商言商的社會,「即使新聞、出版界,商業味道也很濃」,香港漫畫家尊子抱怨,文化界極少出版教育性高的書籍。

「有錢賺、吃得飽、賭賭馬,又能說點心裡話」,一位市民顯得還算滿意。

香港絕大多數居民都來自大陸,老一輩早厭倦兵馬倥傯的日子,一九六二年到文革結束後的一九八○年間,難民潮陸續湧進五十萬人。這些飽受政治折磨者,下船後最大的奢望是有自由,對他們而言,只要有吃有住,夫復何求?至於第二代,則被要求少惹政治,甚至不要參加學校學生會的任何活動。

一個願打、一個願挨,造成了香港這塊與眾不同的殖民樂土。

歌舞昇平?

直到一九八二年,英國與中國大陸開始談及收回港九問題,才又重新觸動了港人不願再提的記憶。

一九八四年九月,中共與英國的聯合聲明發表後,香港碼頭船隻仍往來頻密,貨物彷彿永遠卸不完;中環街頭年輕人、外國人熙來攘往,櫥窗陳列著來自世界各地的誘人商品;茶樓杯盤狼籍、麻將聲此起彼落……,表面看來,香港一切如昔。

但是,就如散文作家蕭依然提醒,如果只由「市聲」去辨識香港,是不智的。

〔圖片說明〕

P.77

新界沙田的夜間賽馬場擠滿了賭馬的人潮。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

A Portrait in Prosperity

Gypsy Chang /photos courtesy of Chung Yung-ho /tr. by Peter Eberly


The people of Hong Kong have always been good at thinking up ways to make money, and speculation in stocks, gold, and real estate abounds.

Gambling is also widespread. Young people crowd the racetracks to play the horses; mahjong games get started six hours before the wedding reception; and high school students are afraid to get their hair cut on Saturday afternoon if the barber has lost money the night before.

Along with a fixation on moneymaking and a passion for gambling, the people of Hong Kong have also been criticized for a calculating realism and political apathy; but these characteristics are not innate.

In fact, after a series of civil disturbances during the 1960's, the British government discouraged the population from getting involved in politics. Gambling was one of the methods used to distract and pacify the populace.

A more important method of soothing the population has been serious efforts to improve living conditions.

Since the 1970's, the Hong Kong government, in response to the public will, has engaged in wide-scale construction of schools, public housing, and a rapid transit system and has reformed the bureaucracy, cleaning out corruption, eliminating special privileges, and strengthening police protection.

Hong Kong people believe in the power of the law--that as long as you go according to the book you won't run into problems. And public announcements on TV encourage people to speak out if they are dissatisfied with the public order, the environment, the subway. . . .

Under this sort of "freedom without democracy," the people of Hong Kong have poured all their efforts into succeeding economically. And the Hong Kong government has adopted a laissez-faire, internationalist economic policy, leaving companies pretty much alone as long as they pay their annual tax. These factors, combined with an advantageous geographical location that has enabled the colony to become the world's second largest transshipment port, have created a society where business is boss.

"There's money to be made, plenty to eat, horses to play, and you can say whatever you feel like," one citizen says, who appears to be pretty much satisfied.

The vast majority of the people of Hong Kong come from the Chinese mainland, some half a million having fled during the years 1962 to 1980. Having suffered the extremes of political repression, to them freedom is a luxury; besides decent food and shelter, what more could one ask for?

You mind your business, and I'll mind mine--an unspoken understanding between the rulers and the ruled has made Hong Kong a very special kind of colony.

So in 1982 when the British began talking to mainland China about the 1997 question, memories were stirred up that the Hong Kong people would rather have left forgotten.

Since September 1984, when the joint declaration was announced, the ships have continued to ply the harbor as busily as before; the young people and Westerners continue to crowd the shopping district, with its windows full of tempting goods from around the world; and the sound of mahjong continues to rise and fall from the upstairs tearooms. . . on the surface, nothing seems to have changed.

But a local writer cautions: it's not wise to judge Hong Kong from the surface.

[Picture Caption]

The race track at Sha Tin is crowded with bettors.

 

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